If you are thinking of staying in the Aqua Hotel Riverside, do seriously consider renting a car at the airport.
A couple of reasons why you should do this are,
1st, the transfer from the airport can cost you up to €70 each way,
2nd, the cost of taxi’s into Portimão or Praia de Rocha can cost anything from €4-10 each way,
This makes your evening meal quite expensive.
We paid €120 for a car for 2 weeks.
I used You Drive at www.you-drive.cc last August. They have a very friendly and professional service and the car was brand new. I recommend and will use them again.
I used other companies before but I got very impressed with the service from this company. The rep is a very nice person, the car was brand new and the price was very fair for the service I had. They even knew it was my birthday and congratulated me. Wow!
Tip: book early, they usually have good deals for advanced bookings.
I have the bus timetables on my website at www.algarvebus.info/001.htm
Beware that schedules are very limited on Saturdays and Sundays (only two buses each day and one of those at 2am)until 1st June and after mid-October.
The bus terminal in Faro is right in the middle of the city close to the Marina and railway station - see www.algarvebus.info/005.htm for a map.
The buses end in Seville at the Plaza de Armas terminal which is on the western edge of the city centre. I do not know of any hotels nearby; others can I am sure help but note that one of the ALSA buses through Faro to Seville is a direct journey to Malaga but does involve travelling at fairly unpleasant hours!
There is a one daily bus direct from Malaga to Faro etc operated by ALSA (www.alsa.es)but this leaves at 9pm and arrives in Faro at 2am. This is not helpful!
Alternatively you can travel by train or bus between Malaga and Seville from where there are buses into the Algarve.
I have all the current bus information Seville - Algarve on my website at www.algarvebus.info/001.htm
Also, so far as I am aware, many hire-car companies do not allow cross-border travel and those that do make a very large additional charge for so doing.
The staff at Faro airport seem to be unaware that there is a left luggage facility in the car park opposite and about 50 metres from the terminal arrivals exit.
The facility appears to be secure and is operated in the same manner as a car park as when coins are inserted the locker locks and a ticket is supplied. This ticket when inserted on return will open the locker. There are 3 sizes of locker and a free telephone for assistance.
It is a particularly useful facility if, as we were, you have time to kill before travelling on. There is an efficient and regular bus service close by to Faro and to Faro beach.
Just to repeat: 3 separate airport employees advised us in the terminal that there was no left luggage facility at the airport.
Trains leave Faro for Lisbon every day at these times:
0655, 0905, 1308, 1455 and 1700. There is an extra train at 1905 on Sundays in the winter and every day in the summer.
The 0655 and 1455 are fast trains (Alfa Pendular) taking 3 hours for the journey to Lisbon; the others are slower, taking 4 hours.
In the return direction, trains leave Lisbon Oriente station at 0840, 1020, 1320, 1720, 1840 every day and an extra train at 1920 on Fridays during the winter and every day during the summer. These trains also stop at Lisbon Entrecampos Station 10 minutes after leaving Oriente.
The 0840 and 1840 are the fast trains.
Ticket price (2nd class) on the fast trains is €19.50, €18.00 on the others, if booked on line.
Reservations are essential; ticket sales open 30 days before travel.
These trains also stop at Loule, Albufeira and Tunes. There are connecting trains to/from other Algarve stations.
Portuguese Railways website www.cp.pt - most information is available in English.
Getting to and travelling around Portugal is as convenient these days as any other destination in Europe, with good connections facilitated by modern airports and a network of highly efficient transport terminals located up and down the country.
Lisbon, Oporto, Faro, Madeira and the Azores have airports served by TAP Air Portugal, the national carrier, which has direct flights to Lisbon from a number of destinations including England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, the USA and Canada. Most major European airlines fly to Lisbon, while a succession of charter flights operate during the summer, especially to the Algarve. There are also international flights to Porto in the north and Faro in the south.
Direct and regular bus services operate from France, Spain and England, while train connections from France and Spain provide regular scenic stops en route.
If you're driving from England, the quickest route is via the Plymouth-Santander or Portsmouth-Bilbao ferries to northern Spain and then on to Portugal.
Portugal’s mainland rail system is cheap and extensive, and tourists have a wide range of special tickets available offering unlimited travel throughout the country.
Numerous privatised coach companies provide fast and efficient road transport in Portugal, at very reasonable prices.
On the islands of Madeira and the Azores, the shorter distances involved mean that a taxi is sometimes a more viable mode of transport than the local bus.
The Algarve has a decent local train service linking Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the East to Lagos in the West. There are also reasonable connections to and from Lisbon with 5 trains daily to and from the capital. The trains stop at Tunes, Albufeira, Loule and Faro - Change at Tunes for Silves, Portimao and Lagos.
Although the Algarve is well served by its local bus network (www.eva-bus.net), to be able to get around at your own convenience and to see those out of the way places you really have to hire a car. The Algarve may be Portugal's most visited region but the roads are surprisingly quiet outside of the main tourist resorts. A small hatchback will cost between 90 and 160 Euros for one week's hire depending on the time of year, this does not include petrol however.
Arriving in Algarve by train is also comfortable, easy and fast. And surely is much cheaper than by car.
There are daily trains that leave from Lisbon – the journey takes about 3 to 4 hours, depending on how much stops there are and which is your final station.
The journey till Tunes is common; then at this location you should change your train if you are heading to Lagos; otherwise, if you are heading to Faro there is no need to change to another train, as this one continues the journey till that final station.
To travel between Lisbon and Albufeira, a 1st class ticket costs about 17euro. These tickets might be bought at the company’s website and if bought online they are 10% cheaper. Notice that you must buy them on a computer connected to a printer, as they generate a pdf file with the ticket that you must print in order to show it inside the train.
Other places where you might buy your ticket: at the train station or at any ATM machine. It is advisable to buy your ticket before arriving in the station, as the seats are reserved (so, the sooner you buy, the better).
For detailed information about timetables and stations, check the company’s website: www.cp.pt
Arriving in Algarve is very easy and fast, both driving from Lisbon or Porto. There is a highway connecting north to south and afterwards there is a highway that crosses Algarve from east to west, making it quick and easy to reach any location by the coast.
The highway that crosses Algarve (Via do Infante – A22) is free of charge (2005). The highway from north to south is not free and prices vary according to the city you enter. Driving from Lisbon would be around 15euros per trip (2005), whereas if you start in Porto you would pay about 30euro per trip.
Usually, when planning road trips I use the www.viamichelin.com online maps (free).
Most of parking spaces inside villages in Algarve are paid, and may be overcrowded, depending on season.
When we travel to a new country or location, we like to be able to travel around and see the sights at our leisure. Consequently, before leaving Canada, I had arranged for a car rental from Budget at the Lisbon airport. However, since we planned to spend the first three nights in Lisbon, we did not actually pick the car up until the day we left the city and headed south for the Algarve - you don't need one in Lisbon since public transport is cheap and walking is fun!
I was not sure about what size car to rent because of the size of our two main suitcases. We had rented a Ford Focus in England in 2000 and it was a nice size. In the end, we went for a low-end Compact car with unlimited mileage, which turned out to be a Fiat Punto. The two suitcases only just squeezed into the hatchback rear but there was also room for our backpacks off to the side of them when necessary.
It had a manual transmission, no air conditioning (although they said it would when I booked it - we didn't need it in May) and no CD player. However, it was fun to drive, was economical on gas (pump price E1.07/litre or US$4.65/US gallon), could handle the 130 kph super-highway speeds and was small enough to negotiate all those tiny streets in some of the small villages that we visited. I was very happy with the Punto - especially when I got it back to the airport in one-piece 2530 km (1550 miles) later!
The quoted price at the time of rental was E295 including taxes but, by the time they tagged on some extra insurance and final tank fill-up, it came to E366 (US$450) for 10 days of useage. Not bad for total freedom!
Here we are, with our friends Geoff and Mary, when we took them back at the hotel ƒº after enjoying our first dinner together nearly 2 years after our last meeting.
Even if distances are not bad inside Albufeira, a car is needed to drive around the area.
For inside Albufeira is better to walk and get a taxi back as from the center to our area was a round 5 euros.
If you are in Faro and want a transport to LISBON or to PORTO, then you can get a bus of “Renex” group, just in front of Eva hotel in Faro, 300 from rail station. Well, you can also get a bus of “Eva group” but they have a lot of stops.
Sitting in our line of stopped traffic at the northern boundary of the Algarve, with everyone's engines switched off and people out of their vehicles enjoying the sunshine, I began to wonder how badly was the highway blocked? Moreso after a police car then a fire truck went roaring past us with sirens blaring. It was a long line of traffic, winding ahead out of sight around the turn, so I decided to take a little stroll to see how long we might be held up. By the time I got within sight of the problem, the fire trucks had doused the worst of it and the acrid smoke had at least turned white. It turned out that the truck had been hauling a flat-bed load up a long hill on this 29 C day and the engine must have overheated and caught fire after he had made the peak. Fortunately, there was a lay-by there and he was able to pull off the highway itself while the cab was destroyed by the fire. I only just made it back to our car before the line of vehicles was off and running again. Altogether, a half-hour but interesting delay!
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